The sensations were so intense.
Gabrielle yelped, using her voice for the first time in what felt like forever.
“Ssh, it’s okay,” the guru whispered bracingly into her ear as he continued weaving a hypnotic web around her that ensnared her and obscured her reality. “Just let go. Clear the path to where your greatest pain and greatest power lie so you can release them. Do not fight!”
“K-Khrafstar, please! Don’t do this!” Gabrielle begged, utterly lost in time and space. The chill of Dahak’s temple surrounded her while the chafing of the rope against the already raw skin of her wrists and ankles held her in place. Every muscle in her body strained and ached between the cornerstones of the rough-hewn altar beneath her. Hyperextension arched her back and tugged on her hips and inner thighs as she was forced to accommodate the priest’s folded legs below her.
Khrafstar dug his fingers into the supple curves of her buttocks, pulling them up and apart with his hands while exerting ever-increasing downward pressure with his own hips.
Gabrielle shrieked when her body gave way to his; the concentrated burn along the rim her resistance magnified with fissures that spread outward like cracks in glass. Her cries echoed in the hollow darkness.
“Ssh,” Aiden cajoled her again. “The past cannot hurt you. The only power it has is that which you give it. …Now, we are doing this to help you break free,” he reminded her, layering subtle disappointment into his voice. “You must come to terms with what happened if we are to-”
“I can’t! Please! I-it; you’re-”
“I am not doing anything,” he spoke over her affliction. “It’s all in your head. Do not fight your discomfort. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then let go. It’s the only way!”
“Focus on your breathing. In through your nose; out through your nose. Count! In– 2, 3, 4. Hold– 2, 3, 4. Out– 2, 3, 4. Hold– 2, 3, 4. Gabrielle! If you cannot overcome this, you will lose yourself to it! Now, focus!”
His student drew a shaky inhale. “S-something’s wrong,” she choked out sometime later. “I don’t remember this. But I see and feel it so clearly. And I know in my soul that it happened.”
“You must have repressed it,” Aiden said in a breathless tone of his own. “Understandable; it’s a very painful memory to be sure. But-”
“But there’s more,” Gabrielle agreed. “Oh, there’s more! I can’t bear it…”
“You can! You are so strong, Gabrielle. You can be transformed, if only you will allow it.”
I can restore you, dear one, if only you will allow it, Dahak had tempted her.
Instantly, the small blonde was floating in supernatural fire.
Her past self answered for her. S-so be it.
“NO!” she screamed aloud, desperate to avoid the agony, horror, and revulsion she knew would follow the acquiescence.
“You must stop fighting! Clear the path to your inner stillness!”
“I can’t; I can’t! I want to stop!” Gabrielle writhed against Aiden’s grasp. “Please!”
“Alright, alright!” he snapped as he pulled out of her and glared at her torn flesh to heal it. “You were so close, Gabrielle…”
The disgust and frustration in his voice sliced the woman’s heart as if they were shards of glass blown in the wind. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, curling into a ball to hold herself together.
“Some people just can’t do it. I guess you’re one of them,” Aiden again cut her with his words as he twiddled a blade of grass between his thumb and first two fingers. “I really thought-”
Fresh tears stung green-blue eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“You said you were game. I thought you were going to change the world…”
“Oh, but I already have. For evil.”
Aiden frowned. “You’re not evil, Gabrielle. Farthest thing from. You just-”
“Even if I’m not, I- …What came from me- What-”
“Can you tell me about it?” the guru asked as he once more lifted his prey halfway onto his lap and stroked her hair as she lay on her side. “What happened, little lamb?”
“I thought he was my friend…”
Gabrielle gasped and scrambled to sit up and look her teacher in the eye.
Aiden let her go without struggle.
“You called his name when you got your lost in your past.”
“Oh.” Gaze falling, and face following, the blonde lay back down. “D-don’t; please,” she breathed when the man crawled toward her to cradle her anew. “I need to …tell this story without help.”
“And I will listen,” Aiden told her, scooting back to give her space.
“He …was the high priest of …a god named Dahak. Have you heard of him?”
Feigned sympathy answered her unwitting question. “No, little lamb.”
“He’s the god of ultimate evil. And I let him in. I …bore his child.”
“Oh, but I did. I killed for him. Both of them. But I didn’t know what I was doing. I …saw my friend in danger and sprung to help him. …Then he hurt me. They all hurt me.”
“Their entire… congregation. All the followers of Dahak who… liberated the temple from the Romans with us that day…”
“Close to twenty,” Gabrielle admitted with a sniffling cry. “Oh, they hurt me… A-at first they didn’t. I- They just- I stabbed their priestess before she could sacrifice Khrafstar. Meridian. My first kill. Then Khrafstar got up from the altar. He… taunted me. Then. He must have given the order, because suddenly, all the cultists grabbed me and put me on the altar in his place. They- …took my clothes off.” Hazy shadows solidified into all-too-real images, and Gabrielle cringed from them. “They’re here. Oh, they’re here!” Hands over her eyes and body compressing into an even smaller ball, Gabrielle shook badly.
“They’re not, little lamb. Such beasts cannot enter my estate. Do not worry. They cannot harm you.”
“But they did.” Once more, she hiccuped a sob. She did not melt into Aiden when he lay down behind her and embraced her, nor did she rebuff him. “They hurt me so much…”
“What did they do, little lamb?”
“You can! Take back your power from them! They do not deserve it. Gabrielle, speak their deeds, so you can be free of them. I will help you!” As turned on as ever by another person’s suffering, Aiden started to rut against the woman. Holding firmly to her waist, he told her, “I’ve got you. I won’t let them have you. You are m- free!”
Gabrielle nodded even as tears dripped down her face. “Oh, it hurts!” she whimpered when her teacher penetrated her a second time, not realizing that the sensation was real.
“It’s alright, little lamb. Be strong. Know your strength, Gabrielle. Use it!”
She took several deep breaths to cope with the great emotional and physical distress coursing through her.
“That’s it! That’s it! You’re doing it! You’re breaking free!”
Gabrielle parted with the pain, from herself, and soon became overwhelmed by the sensation of flying, her mind spiraling out of her head. “I-I’m doing it!” she squeaked, exhilarated and terrified at the same time. Ever more consciously, she ignored the feeling that something was off.
“Speak! Break your silence! Break their power!” Aiden goaded her higher.
The blonde sputtered when the man pulled back from burying his full length into her and then rammed home again. Desperately, she chased the sense that she was transcending to another plane. Her mouth formed words without running them by her brain first. “The cult tied me down for Khrafstar. He… m-mocked and men-menaced me some more. Ah!”
“Feel it! Taste your freedom!”
Barely cognizant that Aiden was saying something to her or joining her in euphoria, Gabrielle obeyed. “Then he took me.” Disorientation overrode all else when the admission did not bring hurt or shame, but acceptance. “M-many times, a-and in many ways,” she continued mindlessly.
Aiden craved details. “What kind of ways?”
“Ways I never imagined. H-he was a demon. Ahh!” Starved lungs shuddered for breath. “He crossed every boundary I ever had. T-took everything from me.”
“How, child? How? Tell me how!” The man asked though he knew the answer, tapping into Gabrielle’s hidden memories as if they were a treasure trove. Satisfaction made him groan and huff his breath as he slammed into his student all the harder.
“He- he…” Even in her most debauched, delirious state, Gabrielle did not have the comprehension, let alone vocabulary, to describe what had happened to her.
Her teacher filled in the blank. “He took your ass,” just like this, “didn’t he?”
“Yes.” Again, the truth came without pain. “Th-then my mouth. Th-then between my, my breasts. Then …the usual way.”
“Ohhh! We will do the same,” he moaned into her hair without her notice. “But the cult!” he remembered. “The cult! What did they do?”
“They touched me. P-put their hands and mouths all over me. I- It gave them pleasure, so they covered me in their release. …K-Khrafstar covered me in smoke.”
Taken out of his pleasure by such an unexpected turn, Aiden asked, “What?”
“Smoke billowed from Khrafstar’s nose and mouth.” Gabrielle covered her own briefly, absently. “Into mine. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. Everything just felt awful. So; so a-awful.” The admission starting to bring her down, she plunged ahead with her story to keep from crashing and burning. “He- I could feel Hell burning through my skin and pounding in my blood.”
“Gods,” Aiden cursed. Beginning to truly feel for the woman, he shook his head to regain his own focus. If he cared about her, then he couldn’t sap her. Nor could he enjoy the moment. So, he returned to using her vulnerabilities against her. “You are so strong, Gabrielle. So pure. You survived all that and yet carry within you the brightest light I’ve ever seen.”
Still plummeting despite the praise, Gabrielle whimpered. “I’m not. No… nobody makes it through that unscathed. Nobody makes it through that at all. I died on that altar,” she realized, haunted. “But somehow I brought life into this world because of what happened to me on it. …Life that really wasn’t.”
“Khrafstar warned me, but I didn’t get it. He stuck his claw in me, my-my bellybutton to awaken my womb; pierced my breasts for Dahak to fill them with milk.” Voice hollow to the point of death, Gabrielle feigned a laugh. “Like I said, he was all about getting inside of me. Every way he could. He… did.” She yelped when Aiden drove into her with a brutal thrust to shake her from her distraction. “I-it feels like he’s still doing it. I don’t know if he ever stopped.”
Her faint whispers once more sparking the embers of Aiden’s conscience, he worked harder to smother them. “It sounds like you give the cult a lot more credit than they deserve. Baring and touching you isn’t so bad.”
Indignation did not even occur to the blonde. She barely heard the crass comment. Still, she answered it. “That was before they decided they wanted …in too. When Khrafstar was sitting on my chest to rub his… himself between my… and put it in my mouth….” As she started coming back to herself, she began to consciously choose her words.
“The cult was all men?”
“No.” Lethargic self-deprecation twisted her countenance as she stared off into the distance. “And they …weren’t- didn’t- They only used their fingers– one, two, three each-”
“Yes, it hurt terribly,” Gabrielle said without inflection, an inadvertent counterpoint to Aiden’s high-pitched sigh. “And most were too impatient to wait their turn. So, more than one took me at the same time.”
“Both openings,” she confirmed. “The whole thing went on for hours. They even- two of the men lifted up Meridian to hook her fingers in me too,” Gabrielle said just as they both saw it happening in their minds. “S-so cold. I couldn’t scream, w-was choking on K- his—” the woman’s voice changed as she went momentarily blank; the man blotted the dead priestess’s part out bilaterally in a repeated effort to not be derailed from his peak— “Khrafstar reached climax three times, once in each place. …Until the rest of the cult disappeared. He-” Her voice caught in another hiccup. “He was kinder to me when they weren’t there. He untied me and kissed me, stroked- Oh!” Gabrielle squeezed her eyes shut and curled even tighter into herself.
Aiden groaned in appreciation of the added pressure and slight angle change. The physical sensations further drove away his lingering thoughts about the corpse. “What happened next? What did he do?” he panted in ecstasy.
“He ran his hands over every part of me. They were so hot, made my skin all red and sweaty.” Tuning out the sounds of pleasure from her teacher at the description, she forged ahead. “He… liked what he saw.” Then Gabrielle could say no more. Her mouth worked uselessly while the spiritual noose she had long forgotten closed around her neck.
“Did he take you again? Did he- Oh!”
Gabrielle nodded. “He …made me climax... b-by using his mouth on me. …H-here.” Subconsciously, the bard skimmed one of her hands over her breasts while the other cupped between her legs in a protective gesture, still not noticing her nakedness or that her unoccupied orifice stretched with the use of its neighbor.
“Ohhh! We’ll do that too!” Aiden moaned as he finally reached his end. Once he could catch his breath, he asked, “At least that felt good, right?”
“It made me sicker than anything, l-like now,” Gabrielle mumbled, only vaguely registering the upset in her stomach, less so, her teacher. “Something- Mm!” Her nails dug into the skin of her crossed arms and gouged it as she trembled.
“So, he was the father?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes, I still think so.”
The man pressed her. “Surely, it wasn’t another cult member?”
“No, but everyone else thinks it was Dahak. …After Xena finally deigned to return to me—” bitterness reappeared at the mention of her friend— “she and Khrafstar fought. But something about what they were doing woke Dahak up. He snatched me up and pulled me into himself. ...Held me in his flames.” Gabrielle felt a dim echo of them on her flesh and tried to rub the feeling away.
“He took you too?”
She stared with empty eyes into the past, nodding once more. “He did. He hurt me worse than all the others combined. He purged Khrafstar from me inside and out, devouring the- priest’s fluids… from my skin and boiling his seed within me until it evaporated. I guess when I felt that deep stab is when he placed his child within me…”
“He tricked me too. I thought he- He told me that Khrafstar had acted without his blessing, led his followers astray. He- he told me that he’d brought me into himself to protect me.”
Aiden rubbed her shoulder and back in consolation, but Gabrielle did not respond.
“Dahak- he- said he would purify me. He licked Meridian’s-” Then she was screeching and thrashing at the sight of her bloodstained hands.
“Gabrielle, Gabrielle. You’ve only hurt yourself! This isn’t the past! You’re okay!” Against her frenzied struggles, Aiden held her until she went limp from exhaustion. “Little lamb, the past has no place in the present. Take back your power. Do not be a lamb any longer! Show yourself to be the lion I know you can be!”
“I- I don’t know how,” Gabrielle sobbed.
“I do!” the man told her in his most inspiring voice.
“You must relive it on your own terms! Take the experience and bring it under your control. I can- will help you! Go through the same motions, but change their tenor. Invite someone in and mean it! Direct every minute of the encounter! Enjoy it! Do those things because you want to! …I know. I know it sounds crazy. But so does achieving inner stillness to move the Earth. And yet I’ve done it! I know I can help you do it too, if you’ll let me.”
Green-blue eyes stared into dark ones for several minutes, disbelieving and yet longing. “I- I couldn’t …”
“You can! You just need to commit wholeheartedly. Will your fantasy into existence. Take back your power!” Aiden pulled the woman up into a sitting position to embrace her. “I so want to see you succeed, Gabrielle. I will do everything I can to help you. You’re so close. You are so close! All you have to do is face and release your pain,” he urged at the same time he let go of her. “Use your breath! Use me! I will only do as you desire. I will follow every command you give me.
“I’ve never done this for anyone else before, but, Gabrielle, I can see it! You are the one who will heal the world. Use me to clear the path to your inner stillness, and the rest will fall into place. I will give myself to you if only you will use me to find your freedom. I know we can do it!” Falling to his knees, his prayerful hands taking on new meaning, the guru beseeched his student. “Please let me do this for you. Let yourself do it!” A grin broke across his face, for when he rose and held out his hand to her, she took it.
Aiden paused halfway into his prey in the late afternoon. “You’re doing great, Gabrielle,” he encouraged her. “Now, I’m going to bend your legs.”
The blonde’s breathing became slightly labored as the man pushed her feet toward her impaled behind.
“Yes, that hurts even more, doesn’t it? But you’re not going to be ruled by your pain any longer. You’re going to breathe through it. Breathe! Good girl. …Now, a little more.” Carefully, her teacher sunk himself deeper inside of her. “Don’t tense up!” A hint of threat darkened his voice when he added, “Or else we’ll have to start all over again.”
Gabrielle’s stomach, pressed so against the marble flooring, churned only dully. She had not spoken or made a sound for hours.
Still, Aiden could read her very well and would not deem a sex act conquered until she could bear its entirety without showing overt signs of unease, anticipation, pleasure, or discomfort. He wanted serenity to shine through, her face to be like a mask, her body, a statue.
Thus, she hardly moved without his physical manipulation or verbal direction. Her mind descended deeper into the earth as bidden.
“Now. Give me your hands. Arch; arch!” Aiden hooked Gabrielle’s fingers around her ankles to put her into bow pose. “Now, hold. Scarcely breath,” he murmured before he began thrusting in and out of her at a punishing pace.
Achieving climax a quarter-hour later, he found that the woman had finally submitted to him completely, for she was starting to turn blue like all the others. He pulled out of her for the last time. Then he fixed the slit he had opened in the back of her pants. Xena was coming; Aiden lifted the wards he had placed around his garden to allow her entrance, smirking as he waited atop his new trophy.
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